Since Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early Spring this past Groundhog’s Day, it may be a good time to discuss the upcoming season.
For many of us, spring means working in our gardens, de-cluttering our homes, shaking off those winter blues and getting out of the house and experiencing nature.
The groundhog may have predicted an early spring, but for the last 3,000 years some have believed that spring will arrive when Kokopelli brings it.
The legends of Kokopelli include a Native American deity whose image can be found on pottery and cave walls stretching as far back as 3,000 years. The deity is believed to have been a central figure in the ancient Anasazi culture which extended into that of the Hopi. There are many Hopi legends that tell stories of Kokopelli, describing everything from his dominion over agriculture to his playful and mischievous side.
The Many Legends of Kokopelli
Bringer of Spring
One such characteristic is that Kokopelli is the bringer of spring; the exact opposite of the famed Anglo-Saxon winter sprite, Jack Frost.
As the ancient legend of Kokopelli goes, the wandering Kokopelli ushers in the warmer weather by playing his flute. It is even said that his music can be heard in the spring breeze.
The deity is often depicted with a humped back, which is interpreted as seeds for spring planting. As a symbol of the spring season, Kokopelli was a celebrated figure; however, good music and spring sowing was not the only thing Kokopelli brought with him.
The deity was also the personification of what we would call spring fever. That time of year when not only the weather warms, but so does our blood.
Spring has often been associated with amorous activities and the arrival of Kokopelli is no different. The deity is not only depicted with a pretty long flute, but also an over-exaggerated phallus.
As the legend goes, Kokopelli would dance into the village, usher in spring and spread seed from his sack. However, it said that the god of spring would also have babies in his sack. As he passed through the village, the women of the village would find themselves pregnant.
The pied piper of spring did not only make crops plentiful and women pregnant, but the sound of his flute could heal the sick.
Much of the legends of Kokopelli mentioning his healing powers point back to fertility because most of the stories told of his healing powers revolve around him restoring the fertility of women who could not conceive children. However, the flute alone is a symbol of healing in Native American lore, which lends credence to the idea of Kokopelli the healer.
Even though Kokopelli is known as the bringer of good crops, children, and health, it seems that the deity has a mischievous side, as well.
According to some legends, Kokopelli could detach his penis and float it down river. Being a god, he apparently still had full control of his floating phallus because when it reached a spot in the river where the young women bathed, he would have his way with the young women.
Not only did Kokopelli wander the American southwest bringing music and cheer, but apparently he also brought tales and stories. Whether these stories were told through music and song or simply just told is unclear. However, the deity is often associated with spreading stories and even news.
A Welcome Spirit
Kokopelli is a deity that is akin to the ancient Greek god Dionysus or the ancient Roman God Apollo with just a touch of Puck from old English folklore.
Needless to say, he was a welcome spirit in the homes of the ancient Native Americans.
As the bringer of music, joy, and plenty, Kokopelli has been a mainstay in the culture of the Native American southwest.